A super fit fundraiser has set off on the latest stage of his round the world challenge, which will see him run 2,900 miles.
Mark Allison, also known as Run Geordie Run, headed off to Belgrade, Serbia, on Monday, for the fifth stage of his Run Around The World Challenge.
He will be running through Romania, Ukraine and Russia to Astana in Kazakhstan, towing his 18-stone support unit ‘Chappie’.
The 46-year-old, from Bedlington, started his challenge – a circumnavigation of the planet covering 20,000 miles in 657 days – 11 years ago to raise funds for charities, including St Benedict’s Hospice and the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.
Mark, who expects to lose up to half a stone a week, said: “This time I’m building in a couple of rest days as that’s really important.
“This will be without doubt the most difficult stage so far, running solo and pulling an 18-stone buggy. I always say I’m a fundraiser first and a runner second. The support and generosity of people will keep me going. I never take that for granted.”
Mark first started fundraising in 1994 following the death of his mother Margery Allison from cancer.
He has previously run the Great North Run and both the London and New York Marathons in aid of the hospice. Over the years, Mark has raised £107,000 for the hospice and £301,000 overall for various local charities. This year, he has set himself the target of raising £30,000 for the hospice.
Mark said: “I’ve had some leaflets printed out in Russian so people can understand why I’m doing what I’m doing.
“It’s quite strange. You can be in the middle of the Rocky Mountains or in the outback of Australia and people just stop and hand over money. I’m always so grateful.”
Mark is once again being supported by his headline sponsor, digital office services company SOS Group, which has helped enable his transport, training and other necessary equipment.
Andrew Skelton, director at SOS Group, said: “We know how much running for St Benedict’s Hospice means to Mark and we’re very proud to sponsor his efforts.
“There’s no doubt about it, this will be an extremely tough challenge. Previously Mark has had a support team with him so to run solo is a step into the unknown and a step up in terms of difficulty.
“We hope he can complete his challenge safely and successfully and that he raises a lot of money for this fantastic cause.”
Catrina Flynn, head of fundraising operations at the hospice, said: “We’re all in awe of what Mark has already achieved and we know that when he puts his mind to something he excels. We’ll be following his progress online and cheering him on every step of the way.”